This man was swallowed by a hippo and lived to tell the tale
In a story-line that is more fitting of a children's book, a man claims that he was swallowed by a hippo while leading a kayak tour down the Zambezi River. But, even more astonishing that the act itself, Paul Templer has lived to tell the tale of the attack that left one dead and him with some serious injuries.
Paul Templer was a 27-year-old river guide when the incident occurred. According to him, he had led numerous excavations down the river and had survived several "half-hearted" attacks by a certain male hippo. However, while those near misses gave Templer an idea of the irate nature of the bull, he usually made sure that he avoided entering his territory when leading the tours.
But, during one trip down the river, the bull attack. The vicious assault was completely out of the blue and ended up with one of Paul's apprentices being killed and Templer being attacked after he had made an attempt to try and help his co-worker.
"I turned just in time to see Evans (the apprentice), who had been flung out of his boat, flying through the air," said Templer.
"His boat, with his two clients still in it, had been lifted half out of the water on the back of the huge bull hippo.
"I turned my boat and paddled furiously towards Evans. I reached over to grab his outstretched hand but as our fingers were about to touch, I was engulfed in darkness."
Talking to the Guardian, Templer describes the experience of being inside of the hippo.
“There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf,” Templer recalled. He did not immediately understand what happened to him, with the tour guide saying:
"I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry. I seemed to be trapped in something slimy.
"There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest. My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt around – my palm passed through the wiry bristles of the hippo’s snout.
"It was only then that I realised I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth."
Templer managed to wriggle free and made a bid for freedom, but the hippo attacked again, dragging him back underwater. He isn't sure how long he was under for, saying that “time passes very slowly when you’re in a hippo’s mouth."
The hippo spat Templer out and he was able to make his way to the surface, where his co-worker was awaiting him.
"I was a mess. My left arm was crushed to a pulp, blood poured from the wounds in my chest and when he examined my back, Mike discovered a wound so savage that my lung was visible.
"Luckily, he knew first aid and was able to seal the wounds in my chest with the wrapper from a tray of snacks, which almost certainly stopped my lungs from collapsing and saved my life."
Despite the horrifying experience and the fact that he tragically lost his apprentice, Templer bravely returned to his job as a guide. Attempts were made to kill the hippo, but he appeared to have gone into hiding. However, Templer believes that he met him two years later, in a similar stretch of water: "As we drifted past the stretch where the attack had taken place, a huge hippo lurched out of the water next to my canoe.
"I screamed so loudly that those with me said they'd never heard anything like it. He dived back under and was never seen again.
"I'd bet my life savings it was the same hippo, determined to have the final word."
So, if there's one thing to take from this, it's that while hippos may look cute, they're actually savage beasts who are intent on ripping you limb-from-limb. Yep, Hungry Hippos doesn't seem so innocent anymore, does it?